Serge and I started our day at the train station (Gare) in Angers where we left the van, so that Serge could cycle with me for part of the day and then return by train to pick up the van. In the main hall of the Gare there is a plaque commemorating the deportation of 824 Jewish men, women and children to Auschwitz in 1942, of whom 12 men, 1 woman and none of the children survived. It is hard to imagine that the beautiful Loire was occupied by Nazis 70 years ago, and that the same train station that was the start of our beautiful journey today was the start of a terrible and last journey for many others.
After we left the train station on our bikes, we immediately got lost trying to find the Velo sur Loire cycle route out of the city, and over an hour later, we succeeded in finding the Loire and the cycle route. The route then took us on a meandering ride along both banks of the Loire through villages which have existed since medieval times. I covered 85 kilometers, past chateaus and vineyards, roman ruins, and churches built a thousand years ago. The weather was wonderful, mid twenties, sunny and not as windy as the past couple of days.
All in all, it was a beautiful ride, with enough good hills to make us work. I feel great, in fact stronger than I felt during the last couple of days (maybe jetlag subsiding), and I hope to get even stronger as the ride progresses.
We are staying in an auberge called La Marine de Loire in the village of Montsoreau on the south bank of the Loire. We had a sublime dinner at Diane de Meridor, recommended by the Hotel - my Saint Jacques Bretonnes aux artichauts et tapinambours (a local tuber with a taste reminiscent of artichokes) vinaigrette tiede aux agrumes was extraordinary, a fine reward after a good day of exertion.
Eight years ago I was diagnosed with acute leukemia. I was 49 years old, with a wonderful wife and two adorable children, many fulfilling interests, and a great career, In short, a charmed life. From one day to the next, I was thrown into a battle of life and death.
Thanks to the wonders of science, the help of devoted, caring and skilled doctors and nurses, and a bone marrow transplant (from my brother) I survived. More importantly, through the experience of my illness and recovery, I have grown and flourished.
To celebrate my recovery, and all those without whom it would have been impossible, I cycled across Europe in April and May 2010, and the blog of my trip is at www.acelebrationoflife.blogspot.com.
My latest project is a book to be entitled Portraits of Hope, comprised of portraits of, and contributions by, survivors of leukemia and other blood cancers, see the link on my blog.
Together we can beat leukemia.